CT scan time! This is apparently sort of what my heart looks like without the shell part that is the rest of my body in all its slightly enlarged left-ventrical glory. I like to think that the blood in my veins is static, the “color of a television tuned to a dead channel”, as you can clearly see in the image. I just picked up the data CD today – this was the most recognizable of the pictures.
The CT revealed lots of fairly unremarkable data, which is what you really want in this occasion. It is done largely to scan for blockages and get any surprises out of the way before the surgeon gets in there. Getting the CT was an interesting experience. After taking some shots of your heart in slow motion (due to the metoprolol I was asked to take before the scan to slow my heart), an IV is inserted, they slip some under-the-tongue nitroglycerine, and turn on the iodine solution. Immediately upon the start of the iodine, your body begins to burn (not burn really, but burn in the same way you feel when your ears are burning) in a startling way and throughout your torso from top to bottom, also giving your head a fairly interesting rush, both from the warm sensation and from the somewhat primal WTF-is-going-on kind of feeling that it causes. It is a bit of an ordeal, but at the end there are less electrical leads to rip off your chest than the EKG or even the cardio ultrasound.
My surgery is now a week and some hours away, but it still feels pretty far off at this point. Next Tuesday sometime before noon I will be sliding from a hole in my own personal space-time with a gash above my sternum, tubes in my nose and throat, a catheter and an IV, and a wire or 2 emerging from somewhere in my chest which will be periodically lighting me up with a bit of the spark of life, into an environment with enough beeping computers that I may actually believe I am on a starship. Or, I could awaken completely freaked out in a daze of horrified confusion, in which case I could potentially believe momentarily that I am on a different type of starship with aliens harvesting my organs – apparently it is not uncommon for patients to wake in a fearful panic after anaesthesia. Let’s just say I hope I awaken in the former of the two. After that the OMGWTF-did-I-just-survive-a-head-on-car-collision healing process begins. Other than the re-calibrating and rebuilding of the heart after having mitral valve repair, the worst is supposed to be just the healing of the entrance wound since it is similar to having a broken sternum.
Theoretically, I will be “waking up” ~4-6 hours after my initial knock-out and will be pulled out of bed the next morning to stand and sit if all goes well and should be feeling pretty ok after about 4-6 weeks. After that, I should be doing much better – as my first surgeon consult said, “a few months after the surgery, you will realize just how sick you were.” Sounds good to me! (except the part where I am apparently fairly sick without realizing to what extent that is the case ).